Presented tonight for your viewing pleasure are glimpses of my favorite part of our 2018 vacation: an ornate, creepy section inside the New York State Capitol that looks like the intersection of Hogwarts and Moria.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.
We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…
At the northwest end of the Capitol is the Great Western Staircase, a.k.a. “the Million-Dollar Staircase”. At the end of the 19th century over 500 carvers took 14 years to create 444 steps reaching up to 119 feet at a cost of $1.5 million, which in today’s dollars is probably…more. Much, much more.
Official credit is generally given to designer Henry Hobson Richardson, who also designed Albany City Hall across the street; architect Isaac G. Perry, whose other works throughout New York include several armories; and Louis J. Hinton, foreman overseeing all those sculptors. Together they and their teams realized a unique vision and delivered one of the most visually stunning physical features we’ve ever seen in or on a state capitol building. in my book it tops all those shiny capitol domes. Even the gold-leaf one in West Virginia.
Far from the security checkpoint with no other humans in sight, Anne and I gallivanted up and down the stairs, inasmuch as one can gallivant after such a long day and after that uphill State Street slog, and merrily snapped pic after pic — she with her camera and I with my Galaxy S9, which some online reviews had complimented for its performance in low-light settings.
Amid all the arches and the columns and the pretty-pretty Fitbit steps are the carved faces of 77 different politicians, creators, and other famous personalities of varying size, significance, and New York relevance. Anne and I discovered a fraction of that. I would’ve loved a complete set, but closing time was nigh and we were exhausted and starving…albeit committed to exploring these magical stairs anyway.
Eventually we put away our devices, exited the Capitol a few minutes before closing time, and desperately searched the surrounding area for an open restaurant…
To be continued!
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